TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 467: Trash Action Lawsuit

Kelly files suit against her husband, Andrew. Andrew wants to bring their neighbor’s trash cans back for them, but Kelly thinks it’s too passive-aggressive.

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 467

Guests: Jean Grae

Transcript

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jean

Welcooome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I am Guest Bailiff Jean Grae, filling in for Jesse Thorn. He's not on this beach. This week: "Trash Action Lawsuit." (Class action lawsuit.) Kelly brings a case against her husband Andrew. Their next-door neighbors tend to leave their garbage cans at the curb for a long time after the trash collectors come through. Andrew wants to bring the neighbors' cans back to the house for them, but Kelly thinks it's too passive-aggressive for him to do so. I have so many opinions. Who's right?! Who's wrong?

sound effect

[As Jean speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, footsteps.]

jean

Only one can decide. Please rise as Judge John Hodgman enters the courtroom and presents an obscure cultural reference.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

john hodgman

Thank you, Guest Bailiff Jean Grae. Here it comes: "I'm sad because I'm happy. And I'm happy 'cause I'm mad. And I'm mad 'cause it sounds sappy to be happy when you're sad." Supreme Guest Bailiff Jean Grae, please swear the litigants in.

jean

Kelly and Andrew, please rise and raise your right hands.

sound effect

[Chairs scrape.]

jean

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God or whatever else?

andrew

I do.

kelly

I do.

jean

Hm. You—you didn't rise, but okay. [Someone laughs quietly.] Do you swear to abide by Judge John Hodgman's ruling, despite the fact that I have heard him pronounce "despite" (de-spite) as "des-pitay" to spite people? [The litigants laugh.]

andrew

I do.

kelly

I do.

jean

Alright. Well, uh, Judge Hodgman, you may proceed.

john

Ahhh, Guest Bailiff Jean Grae, so happy to have you back! [Jean laughs.] Jesse Thorn couldn't make it today. Jean—

jean

Hi.

john

—stepping in. One of our very faaavorite guest bailiffs, Jean Grae, if you don't know. Last name is spelled G-R-A-E.

jean

That's right.

john

Uh, to avoid copyright infringement suits from Marvel Comics.

jean

Nooo.

john

No.

jean

No. [John chuckles.] I—I liked the "A-E" before, uh, Elon Musk and Grimes ruined it. [John and the litigants laugh.] I—I like—I like faeries (fai-er-eez).

john

Yeah. Right.

jean

I like the encyclopaedia (en-sike-lo-pai-dee-uh).

john

Yeah! Right!

jean

Big, big fan of the "A-E."

john

Big fan of the "A-E"—

jean

Mm-hm.

john

—and I'm a big fan of the Jean Grae _(Gray) "_A-E."

jean

Jean Grae (Grai). [Laughs quietly.]

john

Gr—comedian, storyteller, performer, singer, musician, polymath.

jean

[Sighs.] I'm so tired.

john

Uh, pastor (pas-tor) of her—of her own—

jean

Mm-hm. Louis Pasteur (pas-TOOR).

john

Her—[stifles laughter] Louis Pasteur. [John and Jean laugh.] Louis Pasteur of her own church, the Church of the Infinite You. Which started as a show in the basement of Union Hall here in Brooklyn. It's a legit daytime church. It's also a legit—

jean

It's—it's a church!

john

It's a legit daytime drinking church.

jean

Yeah! [Laughs.]

john

Now available to all on Twitch.tv! We'll tell you where to find it—

jean

Mm-hm.

john

—and when to find it, and it's important that you find it.

jean

It really is.

john

But meanwhile we're here to dispe—'cause it's very special. It's very special, Jean, as are you. You're my friend.

jean

[Chuckles.] You're my friend, too! Can I just say, before we get into this, how excited I am? 'Cause I... love... confrontation. [John laughs/groans.] Alright, proceed. Let's go! [A couple of enthusiastic exclamations.]

john

[Laughs.] I do not care for—I do not care for it! That's why I am the judge—[laughs]—and not the litigant, so I can tell people who's right and wrong—

jean

Ohhh.

john

—and then I can sneak away. That's the point of a podcast, is no one ever sees each other. [Stifles laughter.] No one has to see each other face to face.

jean

Ahh.

crosstalk

Jean: I'll confront every tree. John: But in fact, now because we're—

john

Because we're doing, uh, all kinds of things differently and we're all recording from home now, I can—I can see the litigants! This is case number two in history, Jean... where I've been recording from home but I can see the litigants' faces, and they're nice faces!

jean

Does it change it for you?

john

It—it does, mainly 'cause I can remember their names and know who's speaking. [John and someone else laugh.] 'Cause—'cause, uh, 'cause their names are attached to their faces, which is really—

jean

Yes.

john

Honestly, we should have that. In all of life. I don't understand why—

jean

Full people? Mm-hm.

john

Just, uh, name tags all the time! Name tags everywhere. But Kelly and Andrew, nice faces... [Someone says something that sounds cut off at the beginning.] This is your confrontation, not mine. [Kelly laughs.] You may be seated.

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[Chairs scrape.]

john

For an immediate summary judgment in one of yours' favors, can either of you name the piece of culture I referenced when I entered the courtroom? Kelly, what's your guess?

kelly

I'm gonna go with a Shel Silverstein poem?

john

Mm, it's very— [Jean and Andrew both make interested listening sounds.] —it's very Shel-y Silverstein-y! Yeah!

jean

Mm!

john

Yeah, it's very Shel-y Silverstein-y. Uh, okay, we'll put that into the guess book. I'm not saying that it's wrong or right, or medium. Everything—there are no wrong answers except for the one that... I say is wrong. Uh—[laughs] uh, Andrew, what is yours?

andrew

Uhh, the word "sappy..."

john

Mm-hm.

andrew

...put me in a certain, uh, timeframe. So... I'm gonna guess something by James Thurber.

john

Something by James Thurber. To use a sports metaphor, that's a fairly good ballpark. For my kind of thing. I—I'm—my book Vacationland, as you know, did not win the James Thurber Prize for American Humor. [Multiple people laugh.] In 2018. But was a finalist!

jean

Hey!

andrew

I'd like to change my guess to Dorothy Parker, then. [Multiple people laugh, someone gasps.]

john

You can't Algonquin Round Table your way outta this, Andrew. Nice cuts, nice drops! ...But all guesses are wrong! I'm gonna give you another hint. But this one is non-binding. If Jesse had been here, 'cause this fits so well, I would have used this quote, but I would have changed certain names. So see if this gives you a better clue: "John Hodgman is the exact opposite of how I think you should behave. I just think of it as a negative view of the positive mind I have. Jesse Thorn is sweet and nice, and also sympathetic, as kids can identify with him, even though he looks like such a bizarre character." [Jean laughs quietly.] "Eight feet two inches, and a beak eighteen inches long." Any guess now as to which piece of popular culture I was referencing? Kelly? Andrew?

andrew

It's from Sesame Street?

john

It is from Sesame Street. The song I quoted—and I did not sing it, 'cause I don't know this one. The lyrics to the song "I'm Sad Because I'm Happy" by Oscar the Grouch! [Both litigants or one litigant and Jean exclaim in acknowledgment.] For this is a case about—

crosstalk

John & Andrew: —trash cans. [Jean laughs.] Kelly or Andrew: Yes.

jean

Ohhh.

john

You never thought about trash cans, did you?! You're just like "Ehh, it sounds like Shel Silverstein, and I know—" [Someone laughs quietly.] "—I know Hodgman loves complaining about not winning that Thurber Prize, I'm gonna throw Thurber in there." [Multiple people laugh.] The—the cultural reference has to refer to the case! And in this case, yours is a case... of trash cans. The quote that I gave you as the hint, of course, was Caroll Spinney.

crosstalk

Andrew: Caroll Spinney. Kelly: Mm-hm.

john

The late Caroll Spinney. Talking about Oscar being the opposite of Big Bird.

andrew

Mm-hm.

john

In any case, I thought also that the—that Oscar the Grouch, Jean—you—Oscar the Grouch is the best, right?

jean

'Cause he loves confrontation. [Jean laughs, John stifles laughter.]

john

He loves confrontation.

jean

He's—he is very blunt.

john

Yep.

jean

And, um, he doesn't—he's not doing it in a malicious way. He's like—

john

Right.

jean

"I just wanna—let's just talk about it."

john

Right.

crosstalk

John: "Let's get it out in the open." Jean: "Like, now. It's gonna happen now. What's wrong with you?" [John laughs.]

john

Yeah.

jean

Why don't you move into a trash can— [John and Kelly laugh quietly.] —and maybe you would wanna address some things immediately.

john

Yeah!

jean

"But because you're so comfy where you are, you're not doing that."

john

Yeah, that's right.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

He's like "I live in the trash. Check your privilege." [Jean laughs.] "This is what you should be seeing."

jean

"Talk about it. Now."

john

Also, I feel like we're all living in a trash can right now. [Someone laughs, someone sighs.] Like, Oscar the Grouch never left that trash can!

jean

Well, to be fair, it was very large on the inside. Like, he—he lived in a loft.

john

Yeah. The trash can, you'll recall, Kelly and Andrew, from Sesame Street, Oscar's trash can is larger on the inside...

jean

Mm-hm.

john

...than on the outside. It's huge. It's a TARDIS! It's a TARDIS. [Kelly chuckles.]

jean

Yeah! Basically.

john

Everyone knows that Oscar the Grouch is a Time Lord. [John and someone else laugh quietly.] This is known! This is known. Anyway, so here we all are in our respective trash cans, talking to each other through these tin cans, making human connection wherever we can. Lot of can talk, all of a sudden. [Everyone else chuckles.] So Kelly, you bring this case, uh, to my court?

kelly

I do.

john

And what is the justice that you seek? What is the problem with your husband?

kelly

I would like Andrew to let go of the idea of bringing the trash cans back for our neighbors. Because I don't feel it comes from a place of good spirit. I think it comes from a place of... nosy neighbor. Um, and—and a bit of passive-aggressive messaging as to, you know, how you need to take care of your cans. Um—

john

So let me see that I understand what's going on here. Now you—you live in a—in a suburban type environment.

kelly

Yes.

john

Right? Detached houses.

kelly

Yes.

john

And, uh, whereabouts do you live? And I would prefer your specific street address. [Everyone laughs.]

kelly

Uh, we live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia.

john

Okay. And the way trash collection works in your neighborhood is... first of all, it gets collected, which right now seems like a freaking god-or-whatever–damned miracle.

andrew

Yeah. [Kelly or Jean laughs.]

john

I'm so glad it's—we have a civilization, still. Working on it! Working on holding onto it. [Someone laughs quietly.] But in any case, you put your trash out in bins. Right? [One or both litigants "mm-hm."] We call 'em cans. [Another "mm-hm."] We call 'em cans.

crosstalk

Kelly: Twice a week. John: The trash at the e—at the edge—at your curb. Right? Kelly: Mm-hm. Yep.

john

Right.

kelly

Yep.

john

Twice a week. What are the days?

kelly

Tuesday and Friday.

john

Tuesday and Friday. And the trash collector comes and takes away the trash, and leaves the bins behind—

kelly

Mm-hm.

john

—that is, the cans, behind. And then each homeowner goes out to collect those bins and brings them back up into your gr—your garage, or whatever.

kelly

Correct. Yep.

john

Right. But your neighbors... don't do it. And Andrew wants—to do what, Andrew? When your neighbors don't bring their trash cans back up to their houses, and leave them hanging around on the street looking like literal trash...

andrew

Mm-hm!

john

You wanna do what?

andrew

I wanna take them back away from the street and return them to where the neighbors store their trash cans when they're not out for trash.

john

And I presume they store them in their living room, and you get them into the living room by throwing them through the window. [Jean and Kelly laugh.]

andrew

Yes.

john

The plate glass window. Right?

andrew

With a brick in the bottom for good measure, yeah. [Kelly or Jean laughs.]

john

Yeah, exactly so. No, where would—like, when you're doing this trespassing... [Someone laughs.] ...where do you, uh—where do you drop off the cans?

andrew

So they keep their cans, uh, right on the side of their house?

john

Right.

andrew

So, uh, it's a very short distance from the street to where their cans go. It doesn't require me to open a gate or go into a back yard. It—it's just a matter of pulling it about... 18 feet from the street up to the side of their house.

john

Onto their property.

andrew

Right.

john

And next to their property.

andrew

Right.

john

While holding their property.

andrew

Correct. [Kelly and/or Jean laugh.]

john

Yeah. Okay, I'm just wondering. [Laughs quietly.] And how long has this been going on, that it's been getting on your nerves?

andrew

Uh... About ten years.

john

Ohh boy, oh boy! This is a—

jean

[Sighing] Andrew... [Laughs.]

john

—neighborly fight for the ages! And how often do you go out there and like—Kelly, how—like, what's the standard operating procedure now? That Andrew does this, and you want him to stop? Or that Andrew wants to do it, but you tell him "Don't do it"?

kelly

He wants to do it, and—and—so there is a bit of backstory, in that the previous occupant of the house was a wonderful woman who—she was our neighbor when we first moved in, 20 years ago. Um—

john

Hang on, hang on. I'm just gonna interrupt you for a second.

kelly

Mm-hm.

john

Keep—keep rolling on this. Jean Grae, I realized that we don't have a—we don't have any stings for this show, you know what I mean? [Jean laughs.] We don't have—we don't have anything like "backstory," like [dramatically] "Backstory!"

jean

Yeah, yeah. [Laughs.]

john

You know what I mean? Like—[laughs].

jean

Alright, d'you—?

john

Can you give me a quick backstory sting that we can drop in?

jean

Yeah. Do you wanna do the—that bit before, or you want me to just say it right now?

john

No, just do it—do it now, and—and—

jean

Alright.

john

—and I'll make Kelly start all over again. [Kelly and Jean laugh.]

jean

BACKSTORY! [As a diminishing echo] Backstory, backstory, backstory...

john

[Laughs quietly.] Thank you. Alright, Kelly. Start again, and say "There's a bit of a backstory."

kelly

There's a—[laughs]. [Inaudible].

john

And then leave a pause, so that we can insert that. And Jennifer Marmor, producer? Leave this all in. I want people to see what goes on behind the scenes. [Someone laughs.]

kelly

So there was a bit of a backstory.

music

Short, electric pulse.

jean

BACKSTORY, backstory, backstory...

kelly

Again, our previous neighbor, um—uh, was a wonderful woman. When we first moved in, she was in her 80s. Um, she was—she was our neighbor for about ten years. And as she—she was very independent well into her 80s and early 90s.

andrew

Mm-hm.

kelly

And it—she got to a point where she couldn't take the tra—she wanted do. And, you know, she had about a teaspoon's worth of trash, but would diligently bring it out every Tuesday and Friday. And she struggled with the cans. And so we walk our dog every morning, and past their house. We live on a dead end street. And so in going past their house, we developed a system for our older neighbor, where we would take the can out for her as we passed by to leave for the dog walk, and then the trash men would usually come by by the time we returned, and Andrew would return the can up to her porch and help her out. And so he wants to do this now, with the new neighbors.

john

Right.

kelly

Um, who are a lovely couple. But a perfectly capable couple—

john

What happened to your—what happened to your older neighbor?

kelly

Oh.

andrew

Mm.

kelly

She did pass away at the age of 96. And so, um—

john

Oh, that was... very—very rude of her. [Kelly laughs.] Very rude.

kelly

But she was beloved. She was—

john

Yeah, no, that's wonderful.

kelly

Um, and so—and they're a—they are a wonderful couple. I have no... complaints about them as neighbors. And—but they just leave their cans out much longer than—than anybody else on the street. And so he wants to, on the way back from the dog walk, return the cans, you know, to their property. And I feel like it's a different situation, and that it's gonna be seen as passive-aggressive and judgmental.

john

Uh, Andrew—uhhh, how well do you know—are these your next-door neighbors?

andrew

These are our next-door neighbors.

john

On which side?

andrew

Uh, on our left side facing the street?

kelly

No, I—I think he meant on your, uh, your mother's or your father's side. [Everyone laughs.]

john

So how well do you know them, Andrew?

andrew

I—I didn't know them terribly well. Uh, in the last couple of weeks I've gotten to know 'em, though— [Someone laughs quietly.] —know them quite a bit better! Which, uh, has been very nice. We haven't really had that opportunity in the past. But, uh... I—I know them a little. They are actually relatives of Aunt Edie.

john

Uh-huh.

andrew

So they are members of her family. We know them, we know their child, we know their parents for friendly hellos across the fence. Uh—

john

Okay.

andrew

We know their dogs.

john

You know their names.

andrew

Yes. Yes.

john

You don't have to say their names. I don't wanna—uh, but you know.

andrew

Mm-hm!

john

Do you know if they're listeners to this podcast? [Jean and Kelly laugh.]

andrew

I do not know that factually one way or another.

john

Because this would be record-breaking passive aggression. [Jean and Kelly laugh.] If you came up here on this podcast to send your neighbors a little message.

jean

Let's take a quick recess, and we'll be back with more of Kelly and Andrew's case in just a moment.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

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sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

Andrew, now that you know your neighbors so very well, they're pals, friendly—know their dogs or whatever—have you just said to them "Would you please bring your trash cans up?"?

andrew

No. [Jean or Kelly laughs and/or starts to speak.] I have not. Uh, I—

john

You say that as though that's an impossible thing for anyone to say. [Jean and Kelly laugh.]

andrew

To me that's more judgmental than just bringing the cans up. Uh, my portion of the backstory, which Kelly of course can't speak to, is—

crosstalk

Jean: Hold on, hold please, hold please. [Laughs.] John: Hang on, hold for—hold for the sting. John or Andrew: Yep.

john

Hold for the sting.

music

Short, electric pulse.

jean

ANDREW'S BACKSTORY! [As a diminishing echo] Backstory, backstory, which Kelly can't speak to, backstory... [John and one or both litigants laugh.]

john

Alright, go on, Andrew.

andrew

For a while, for maybe a year or so or—or more... the cans would lay in the street, I would get bothered about it, I would grouse and complain to Kelly about it. But I wouldn't do anything, and I would just come inside. And after a little while, I thought to myself "Well, this is silly. If it's bothering me, why not do something about it? If I did the same for the former resident there without being asked, why not do the same for the current resident who lives there without being asked? So I'll put the can back, and... we're both winners! Their cans are back, and it's not bothering me."

john

So if I understand this correctly, your backstory is that your relationship with Aunt Edie, your helping her with the cans, started by your just doing it one day.

andrew

Yep.

john

And then eventually she caught on.

andrew

Mm-hm!

john

And said "Thank you for... trespassing. Thank you for bringing my property back to my property." [Jean and Kelly laugh.] "Don't know why there's a horse's head in this one." [Someone laughs.] "Message received, I guess. But if you don't mind doing it for me, that would be great."

andrew

Yeah. Yeah, I would put them up on her porch and she didn't... like it, but she understood that her, uh, limitations made that the most practical solution.

john

Okay.

andrew

She was grateful for the effort but it bothered her that she couldn't do it on a personal level. She was very independent.

john

Jean, make up names for these neighbors, please. [Kelly laughs quietly.]

jean

Uhhh, Jam-iss? That is James (Jaymz), with—

john

James (Jam-iss)?

jean

—it's James (Jam-iss). And, uh—

john

Uh-huh.

jean

And... uh, Lam-iss. [Any further instances of "James" in this transcript are pronounced "Jam-iss" unless otherwise specified.]

john

James and Lam-iss... and the last name?

jean

Flurb. [Beat.]

john

So—[laughs quietly.]

jean

James and Lam-iss Flurb. Go ahead.

john

James and Lam-iss Flurb. "Hi, I'm James."

jean

"I'm Lam-iss. We're the Flurbs."

john

"I know, it's cute, isn't it?" [Jean and John laugh quietly.] That's how they introduce themselves. "We know it's cute."

jean

"We know. We know." [Chuckles.]

crosstalk

Jean & John: We know. John: We know. We know our first names sound alike. Jean: We know. [Chuckles.]

john

"Anyway, we're the Flurbs." [John and Jean laugh.] "Just moved into the neighborhood. Don't know the rules. Hope someone will tell us at some point!"

jean

"You guys like trash cans?" [Someone laughs.]

john

But—

jean

"You guys like trash cans."

john

"We're proud of our cans."

jean

"So proud."

john

"We like the world to see 'em." How long do the Flurbs leave the cans out for Andrew?

andrew

Routinely, they're out there for the next trash collection day.

kelly

Two days.

john

The—couple of days.

andrew

Yeah.

john

Yeah. But then after the last trash collection day, do they just roll it over to the next week? Do they ever bring them back?

andrew

They do occasionally bring them back, yes. They do eventually bring them back.

john

Come on, Flurbs.

andrew

But they've been out there for multiple days, yes.

john

Come on, Flurbs. And why does this bother you so much?

andrew

Well, uh, they are the only people on the street who leave their trash cans out that long.

john

Right.

andrew

The cans are very visible. They're... unattractive. They are sometimes in the street.

crosstalk

Andrew: You sometimes have to drive around them. John: No, I understand the nature of the complaint, but I mean...

john

Aside from people having to drive around them—it obviously strikes a deeper chord with you. How does it make you feel when you see those—those cans lying all over the place?

andrew

It seems like it would be a very small thing to take care of? And I—sometimes I'm—I'm just... put out that somebody won't do something which seems quite small to take care of the street.

john

Gotcha. Yeah, okay. Well, in fact you sent in some evidence. Oh, Kelly, did you wanna—

kelly

Mm-hm.

john

—jump in?

kelly

It's a dude thing. Um, he—

john

Okay!

kelly

There's a little bit of a... Andrew sees it a little bit of a competition in the—in the... the men of the street. To who brings their cans back first, and quickest, and everything.

john

Is this a competition that exists in real life, or only in Andrew's mind?

kelly

[Laughs.] I think it's only in Andrew's mind.

john

Andrew, have you considered, uh, inviting everyone to join a Google Spreadsheet? [Someone laughs.] And say "You know what would be fun, is we all time how long it takes for us to get our trash cans back, and we can fill in our best times on this spreadsheet! Wouldn't that be fun?"

andrew

Well, I have prepared such a document. Uh— [Someone laughs.]

john

Is that true? [Stifles laughter.]

andrew

Did not submit it, but—no. [Stifles laughter.]

john

Oh. Well, you did submit some evidence—and Jean Grae, do you have—do you have the evidence? You have access to the evidence?

jean

I do. I do. I have it right here.

john

Alright. I—I'm looking at exhibit...

jean

Mm-hm.

john

...A, here. "The trash can in question. Please note that there are no other trash cans visible." [Someone laughs quietly.] Now, all these extremely dramatic photos will be posted on our Judge John Hodgman page at MaximumFun.org. [Someone laughs, John stifles laughter.] And I'm gonna tell you right now, I'm—this picture of a lonely trash can on a suburban street is definitely gonna be the number one most faved pic on the Judge John Hodgman Instagram. For sure. [Someone laughs.] Who posted this pic? Who sent in this exhibit to me?

andrew

I did.

john

Yeah. So when you look at that can, you're—tell—like... narrate your feelings to me. [Someone laughs.] Just look at it right now.

andrew

When I look at that can, I think... "The street would be better if that can was not there. I'm going to make the street better. I'm going to put that can back."

jean

May I ask a question here? Kelly? Uh, does Andrew have these feelings about other items within the household, when things may be out of place? To him. Or are not put away?

kelly

To be fair, he's very consistent in that if—he will take it upon himself to put things away, and to straighten. He's wonderful around the house. I can't say anything bad about that. But, um—

jean

But say if you had been using something... using an item.

kelly

Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

jean

And stepped away.

kelly

Mm-hm.

jean

Do you find that these things get put away before you may be done with them?

kelly

[Laughs.] Yes.

jean

Alright.

john

Ahhh!

kelly

Yes.

jean

Check me out.

john

Jean Grae, permission to add a sting of my own?

jean

Mm-hm. [Someone laughs quietly.]

music

Short, electric pulse.

john

INCREDIBLE QUESTION! Question, question, question... CRUX FOUND! Found, found... [Multiple people laugh.] Kelly, what was it—what's an example of a thing that got put away before you were done using it?

kelly

Well, you know, I might leave a glass next to the sink and say "I will take care of that, but I need to go do something first." And then by the time I get back it is, uh, in the dishwasher. [Someone makes a strained sound.]

crosstalk

Jean: Yes. Yes. I— John: You've even given indication that you're gonna be coming back to it?! [Kelly laughs.]

jean

Yeah. I'm bringing this up because my husband has to say things like that to me.

kelly

Ah.

john

Ohh!

jean

Like, "I'm still using this item. Don't do anything with it."

john

Because you'll clear it away, Jean.

jean

Oh, yes, I will.

john

Right.

jean

One hundred percent.

john

So you're—you're a little bit Team Andrew here, it sounds like. Yeah, Andrew—

jean

No, I'm not. No, I'm not!

john

Oh—okay! Okay.

jean

No, don't get me wrong.

john

Alright.

jean

I just wanted to see if it was coming from the same place. I understand where it's coming from.

john

Maybe the problem is coming from inside the house. [Kelly laughs.] Calling from inside the house.

jean

Yes.

andrew

May I just clarify that?

john

Alright. Andrew, go ahead.

andrew

In this example, Kelly... if you place the glass near the sink, near the dishwasher, and you say "I will take care of that," are you indicating that you are going to re-use the glass? Or are you indicating that in a few moments' time, you are going to put it in the dishwasher?

kelly

Does it matter?

john

I feel like we're not even here, Jean. This is incredible. [Kelly laughs.]

jean

Mm-hm.

andrew

It does matter! Because if you are indicating to me that you are going to re-use that glass, is one thing. But if you are saying "In a few moments, I'm going to put that into the dishwasher," and I—to be a good guy—put it in the dishwasher for you.

crosstalk

Jean: Mmm. Mm-mm. John: Mmmmmm, the good guy...

andrew

Then we've both benefitted.

jean

[Whispers] Andrew.

andrew

You've not had to put the dish in the dishwasher.

jean

[Whispers] Andrew.

andrew

You were not going to re-use it. It was a dirty dish. I saved you a step, and I got the counter cleared.

jean

[Whispering] Ohhh, boy...

john

Question, Andrew. What is your profession? Professional hair-splitter? [Multiple people laugh.]

andrew

Close enough. I'm a fundraiser.

john

Oh! Alright! Does that require splitting hairs?

andrew

Let's just say it requires looking at things from a lot of different perspectives.

john

Alright. That's fair.

jean

God. Andrew... [Multiple people laugh quietly.] Why is this an issue?! Why is this whole thing an issue? You've got all the right tools in place. All of them! [Sighs.] Is scolding a part of this show? It hasn't been before. [Kelly and John laugh.] But can we just put that in? Can I just have a one-on-one with Andrew at some point during this? [Andrew and Kelly laugh.] 'Cause I—[laughs].

john

I will allow it. I will recuse myself. [Jean sighs, Andrew laughs.]

jean

Not yet. [John laughs.] Not yet.

john

Okay.

andrew

May I introduce one other item in the—what I think is germane to this story?

john

Yeah! Of course.

andrew

So, uh, our next-door neighbor has a snow blower.

john

Okay.

andrew

And in the winter, when it snows, he snow-blows our front walkway. We—

john

That's very nice. This is the same neighbor?

andrew

It is.

john

These are the Flurbs?

andrew

Yes, it's the Flurbs.

john

James Flurbs?

jean

Is it James or Lam-iss? [Kelly laughs.]

john

Let's say, uh, Lam-iss Flurb is the snow-blower.

andrew

So, uh, Lam-iss will snow-blow our front walkway. The sidewalk and the front walkway. He'll do several on the street. We've never asked him to do that for us. We appreciate it, and I do not take it as a judgment that I haven't shoveled fast enough.

john

Kelly, I see you want to jump in there.

kelly

I do. So, I believe that Mister... Flurb— [Someone laughs quietly.] —is doing our neighbor on the other side of our house. He goes down and does their entire walk, and front walk, and driveway apron. And so the reason he does our front walk—while it is very much appreciated and everything—it's because it's on the way.

jean

Mm.

kelly

To where he's going. And it would be a really—um... [Kelly and Jean laugh.] ...really bad move to go around or to stop snow-blowing the—the 40 or so feet—

john

And shove your snow-blower through your—right, yeah.

kelly

[Laughing] Right.

john

Well, I mean, it's truly a mystery for the ages what Mr. Flurb's motivations are. There's no way to ever know. [Jean laughs.]

kelly

And I've made him brownies for doing that.

john

Really? Did you let him know that you did it? [John, Jean, and Kelly laugh.]

jean

Did you leave them in the counter in your house?

john

[Stifles laughter.] Yeah, exactly. "These are for the Flurbs. But it's not appropriate for us to let them know." Yeah. [Jean and/or Kelly laugh.] Uh, so let me just make it—understand clearly, Andrew, before I give you a chance to respond. When Flurb snow-blows, it's the sidewalk in front of your home...

andrew

Correct.

john

But he in this case does not—he does not snow-blow your walkway up to your door or your driveway, right?

andrew

No, that is correct.

john

Right, okay. It is a Schrödinger's cat mystery as to whether Flurb is doing this as a favor to you, or just because it's more convenient to keep blowing, as it were.

andrew

Correct.

crosstalk

John: Keep on blowing, [as an echo] blowing, blowing, blowing... Jean: I love that song.

andrew

Much like our sidewalk being on the way to the other house, uh, the trash cans and putting them back are on the way to our house.

john

Right, but you understand that I'm—

andrew

So—

john

—what you're doing is different, in the sense that you are going on—you're taking their property and going onto their property. Whereas the sidewalk is shared. It is communal to the neighborhood.

andrew

Okay. I see that point, yes.

john

These second exhibits, exhibits B and C...

jean

Mm-hm.

john

...I—are adorable, and I just wanna discuss. First of all, there's a—they're essentially dramatic renderings. [Multiple people laugh quietly.] Of the situation in the house. The—your dog Penny here.

andrew

Mm-hm.

john

The caption is "This photo depicts our dog Penny stalwartly watching the street for trouble. Please note this work is exhausting, and sometimes Penny needs to rest her head," and Penny is resting her head on your couch, looking out that window. Staring, perhaps, with dismay, at that lone trash can. And then we here—have here an action shot of—[stifles laughter] of frustration!

jean

Which I enjoy. [John and Kelly and/or Andrew laugh.] Now—

john

Kelly and Andrew looking out the window at that one trash can. Andrew's hands extended! [Someone laughs.] In a—

jean

Mm-hm.

john

—in almost a crucified position of dismay.

jean

Mm-hm.

crosstalk

Kelly: It's Penny and Andrew, but yeah. John: "Augh!" [Kelly laughs.] Jean: I—

john

Like, what would be your vocalization there, Andrew, when you see that? Like, "WHAT the WHAT?"

jean

I believe that's a "Come onnn!"

john

"Come onnn!" That's right, that's a classic. "Come on."

andrew

That's exactly what it is, yeah.

john

"Come on."

jean

I have done this, this position, with our cat Littles, directly at many things outside of the window. [Someone or multiple someones laugh quietly.] So as soon as I saw this, I was like "I—[sighs]. I wanna tell him how much I relate." Except... there's such an easy fix. [Whispering] Oh, Andrew... [Not whispering] I feel you. But I don't feel you. [Everyone else laughs.]

john

Alright, Jean. I'm gonna ask Andrew to approach the bench for a quick—

music

Short, electric pulse.

john

SCOLD sesh!

crosstalk

John & Jean: Scold sesh!

john

I'm going to recuse myself from this, Andrew. This has no bearing on what my decision may ultimately be. Um—but, uh, our guest bailiff has requested a scold sesh.

jean

[Stifling laughter] Thank you.

john

And, uh—and I think you're gonna get one. So... [Andrew laughs.] Please approach the bench.

sound effect

[Scuffle. Footsteps.]

jean

Andrew. Um... I—I think this is probably the case, uh, where I can relate to something so much. I don't like things—and especially lone items, and especially after things are clean and you can see that things are clean—being left out. Making everything uncomfortable. It makes me very uncomfortable inside. I don't like a messy computer desktop. I'm like "Why can't you just—you can rein all that in." And I learned that I—very early on in life, I'm like, hey, if something's bothering you, and it's—it feels like it's a reasonable thing to say, that a good thing to do is to be able to confront people about it. And it seems like you're taking those steps at home. I see that that happens. And then it seems like you might be living with a lot of frustration not being able to say things out of the home. And... you need to. It's okay. It's okay to say "Hey, something's bothering me." It's alright. It's not trespassing to do that. It is trespassing to actually trespass. [John and possibly someone else laugh quietly. Jean stifles laughter.] To physically use your body. But to verbally be able to do that... is something that's good for you. It's something that's good for relationships. It's something that's good for everyone. And as a person who would very much triply consider trespassing on anyone's grounds because... it's a very important thing that I had to learn, to be able to confront people. I really, really—I feel like we're all around the same age. You—you—you gotta do this, man. [A dog barks extensively in the background. Someone laughs quietly.] You can't—you—whoever that dog was is agreeing. [The dog barks again. Someone laughs quietly again.] Thank you.

crosstalk

John: Is that... is that Penny? Jean: Is that Penny? John: Is that Penny in the background? Kelly: That is Penny, I apologize. Jean: Penny— John: No, don't apologize, I love Penny!

jean

Penny is back there being like "Come on, man. Let's—" [The barking continues. Someone laughs quietly.]

john

[Imitating dog] "Roo roo roo, yeah! [More dog noises/indistinct speech.]"

jean

[Laughs.] [Also doing a dog voice] "Your—yeah! Wh—all the stuff she was saying! I was in the picture! That's—exactly!" [The litigants laugh. Penny continues barking.]

music

Short, electric pulse.

john

DOG CAMEO! [Someone laughs quietly.] [Back to regular voices.]

jean

I—what—however the judgment goes today, I just want you to leave here remembering not to stifle yourself anymore. 'Cause it can be really unhealthy! And... it's okay. To say things that you need to say. [Beat.]

music

Short, electric pulse.

jean

END SCOLD SESH! [Multiple people laugh.]

john

Jean, what do you think—like, 'cause we all hate the idea of, for example, doing call banking.

jean

Mm! Mm.

john

Even for politicians who we love.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

Even when the election is perhaps the most high-stakes election in our lifetime, it is uncomfortable for us to call up our neighbors in the United States...

jean

Mm-hm.

john

...cold, and say "Hey, would you consider voting for this person, rather than destroying what's left of civilization?"

jean

Yeah.

john

And often there is a script that goes along with it, that helps the person get into it.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

So if you were writing a script for Andrew—and Andrew, I'm not ruling in Kelly's favor, necessarily; I'm just hearing all the evidence. But I take Jean's scold sesh under advisement, and if you were to write a script for Andrew, what would you have him say or do in order to express himself productively and get the outcome that he wants?

jean

Well, I think forming it yourself is great. And you know how to do that, because you're in fundraising, and you don't get into fundraising without knowing how to get money out of people. Like... you're a salesman. You know what to do. However, I think it's really important to start with—because these are people you know, and people you've spoken to before, and it's not coming out of nowhere—is to say "Hey. I've got something that's been bothering me for a really long time. And I—I've been trying to work out, like, why I haven't said it before." I would even bring up the fact that this happened. [Someone laughs quietly.] 'Cause what you don't want when you approach someone and start telling them something, and you're like "Hey, I've been thinking about it," and they might talk to other people and they're like "Have you been—did you do an entire—did you start a mini-series about this? Before you spoke to me?" [John laughs, Jean stifles laughter.] You wanna give them all the information. And you want everything to be out in the open, so that you guys can actually have a clean-slate relationship. So I think, you know, form your own thing, but the most important thing to include is to be completely honest about it! Even if it seems like what you're telling them might be unreasonable to them, it's not unreasonable to you.

john

Mm.

jean

That's really important.

john

So Andrew, if you went over to the Flurbs, or you waited until you saw them next time, sort of—whatever, and you said, uh... "Hi. Um, I just wanted you to know that—it's a small thing, and I'm sorry to bring it up, but... when you don't bring your bins back up, it just—it's a point of distraction to me. It's a me thing, but it's something that I notice, and I've even went to so far as to go on a podcast, almost literally trashing you about it." [Someone laughs quietly.] "Do you mind bringing the cans back up? Or would you mind if I just brought them back up, if that would be easier?" Like, if you said that...

jean

Mm-hm!

john

...what do you think—what do you think would happen? What are you afraid might happen?

andrew

I think that's judgmental, to my way of thinking? That I'm—that to me seems a little bit like a scold sesh for our neighbors, for not bringing their bins back up. [Someone laughs quietly.]

jean

But aren't you already doing that inside?

andrew

See, I don't—I don't sincerely believe that that's what I'm doing inside.

jean

Ah.

andrew

I really don't think me putting the cans back is scolding my neighbors. Now, if my neighbors asked me to ever stop—if they saw me do that and said "Dude! Don't do that!" I wouldn't continue it. But to me, I sincerely believe that it's not a scolding as much as it's just being neighborly and we all benefit.

john

So Kelly, if I were to rule in your favor, what would you have me rule?

kelly

So, to be fair to Andrew, I—I'm not looking for him to confront the Flurbs. And I know you can't legislate thought. But... I just don't want it to bother him. I don't want him to get frustrated. I don't want him to make himself older than he is, and the street busybody. [John snorts, Kelly stifles laughter.] You know? I don't—I just would rather he see it as the small thing that it is, and that they have other things to worry about, and that... you know, to live and let live.

john

So Andrew, have you done this yet? Or is this just a dream?

andrew

Returning the cans?

john

Yeah. To the Flurbs.

andrew

Yes. I have done that, uh—I've done that at least once in Kelly's presence, and it did not go well. [Someone laughs quietly.]

kelly

I asked him not to.

john

Right. And have the Flurbs ever acknowledged it?

andrew

No.

john

Have they ever said anything about it? No. Nothing.

andrew

No.

john

How many times would you say you have done it?

andrew

I have not done it more than... [Long pause. Kelly and/or Jean laughs.] ...six times.

john

Okay. Just for a moment, Kelly, I want you to turn off your audio. Okay? So you can't hear. Go into a cone of silence. Kelly has taken off her headphones, I can see that. It's a benefit of this new way of doing things. She can't hear what you're saying. Andrew, how many times, really? Twenty-five? Thirty? Thirty-five?

andrew

No, really! Uh—

john

Six?

andrew

Yeah, it's like six! Because I—it wasn't very long ago that I even started to do it. For a while I just... walked past.

john

Kelly can come back online. You have no—you have no idea how—he does this every day. Even when the cans aren't there. [Kelly laughs.] No. He verified that he has only done it the half dozen times.

kelly

I believe that.

john

Honestly, Guest Bailiff Jean Grae, this is truly something of a game changer for me! Because now it's written into the silent code of the neighborhood. Obviously this is not a neighborhood where people—

jean

Yeah.

john

—uh, express themselves to each other that much. [Someone laughs quietly.] And—

jean

Yeah. No. No. I need—I would love to go talk to the entire neighborhood.

john

[Laughing] Yeah.

kelly

If I may, what I would like to know is that if Andrew found his cans put back every day before he had a chance to get home...

jean

Mm.

kelly

...or before it was on his timeframe, how he would feel.

music

Short, electric pulse.

crosstalk

John: INCREDIBLE QUESTION! Question, question... Jean: WHOA! [Kelly laughs quietly.]

john

I'll allow it. Andrew, how would you feel if you came home and saw your cans having been can-handled by another person... [Kelly or Jean laughs.] ...all up alongside your house, or where—whatever? You knew that someone else had been fondling your cans. [Andrew or Kelly laughs.] How would you feel?

andrew

I would not have a problem with that. If they—

crosstalk

Jean: Mmm. John: I have a real problem with it! [Kelly and/or Jean laugh.]

john

I'm thinking about it right now, and it feels weird to me! [Stifles laughter.] Sorry go ahead.

andrew

Yeah, I will say there's one small caveat, which is if somebody brought them up out of the street and put them onto my driveway alongside the house, which is not where I keep them, but it would—they're out of the street, I'd have no issue with it. We keep ours in the back yard. If they brought them through our gate and put 'em in our back yard, that would—yeah. That would skeeve me out a little bit.

john

Mm-hm.

jean

Would you—would you—

andrew

But if somebody brought them—

jean

Sorry, Andrew. I was just gonna ask if you would rather have them talk to you about it, rather than to touch them first. [Beat.]

andrew

… Yeah!

john

Hm!

andrew

Yep!

kelly

I'm not sure I believe that answer. [Laughs.]

john

Well, I think I've heard enough in order to make my decision. I'm going to go in my Tuffrite plastic shed next to my chambers. Uh, sit here for a moment. Contemplate. I'll be right back in a moment with my decision.

sound effect

[As Jean speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape, footsteps.]

jean

Please rise slightly as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

jean

Kelly, how are you feeling about this? How do you feel like it went?

kelly

I'm feeling pretty good! Um, I don't—I don't wanna force Andrew into anything he doesn't wanna do in regards to confrontation, but as far as the nature of the case, I think I'm feeling pretty good.

jean

Okay. Andrew? How are you doing? I've been pretty rough on you today.

andrew

Yes. Uh— [Jean and/or Kelly laugh.] Two scold seshes have not made me feel great about my chances.

jean

Mm-hm.

andrew

I am hopeful that with two scold seshes, uh, I will have been informed enough by the court that perhaps the judge will see in my favor.

jean

We will see what Judge John Hodgman has to say about that. We'll be right back.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Light, mid-tempo rock. Jesse Thorn: Hey, MaxFunsters! It’s Jesse Thorn. This week on my public radio interview show Bullseye, I’m talking with Tina Fey and Robert Carlock about creating Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 30 Rock, and also just kind of… why they’re the best at everything. [Laughs.] Tina Fey: There was a window of time when we—we’d just go to awards things and pick up our prizes and party with the people from Mad Men. Jesse: You can find Bullseye at MaximumFun.org or wherever you listen to podcasts. Just search for “Bullseye with Jesse Thorn.” [Music finishes; cheers in background.]

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

Guest Bailiff Jean Grae, we are in chambers taking a break from this case. What have you got going on? What are your plugs?

jean

A lot of things. I love plugs. Three-prong, two-prong, any prong! [John snorts.] I've got a church. Church happens every other Sunday.

john

That happens on your Twitch stream.

jean

It happens on my Twitch. Um, I really like saying "Twitch." And, uh, it's—it's good! It's good for you. If the word "church" is throwing you off, don't let it. Just come for some good vibes and feels, and... and, uh—and change your life! You could do that.

john

Yeah! I've been to church both in—IRL and online.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

And every time, you know, ba—so people will understand what they're gonna see on this Twitch stream—and it's JeanOfTheGraes is your Twitch channel, right?

jean

Yes, it is.

john

Jean's gonna be standing in front of a virtual stained glass window with an image of Kermit the Frog on it. Something like that.

jean

Maybe! Maybe.

crosstalk

John: Yeah, it changes every time. Jean: It changes.

john

That's the beauty of fake backgrounds. [Jean chuckles.] And you'll usually have a wonderful musical accompanist.

jean

Yes.

john

Kwame Brandt-Pierce.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

Or who did it last time? I forget the name of that—

jean

Chris Keys did it last time.

john

Chris Keys. Yeah. Right.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

You give a little sermon. There's a lot of fun in the chat accompanying the Twitch.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

You—we sing songs.

jean

There's a choir.

john

The choir dropped in last time.

jean

Yeah.

john

It's real, and it's funny. And it's real, and it's funny.

jean

Mm-hm. [Laughs quietly.]

john

And it's, uh—it's all the emotions! And it's okay to feel emotions.

jean

Yeah, it is.

john

And then Chris Keys has an album out. I'm—I'm gonna throw this plug.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

An album out with your husband right now! Right?

jean

Yeah, he does. It's called—

john

Quelle Chris and Chris Keys.

jean

Yep! It's called Innocent Country 2. It is out right now, and it'll be out until, uh, nothing is out anymore! 'Cause that's how things work. [Both stifle laughter.] So—you don't even have to leave your house to get it! It's great.

john

If you wanna hear that album, where—where to go? Bandcamp?

jean

Yeah.

john

Bandcamp—

jean

You can go to Bandcamp, you can go anywhere I think!

john

Yeah.

jean

Anywhere.

john

Quelle Chris and Chris Keys, and all—Google Jean Grae, and go to her Bandcamp! And listen to all the incredible multiple, multiple albums of music and spoken word genius that she's put out there!

jean

Yeah. Will you be confused at first? Sure.

john

Yeah. But, you know, we all are.

jean

That's what I like.

john

As for me, I've got Get Your Pets. I do it every week day. This is my Instagram Live show where I interview people's cats and dogs and other pets. I've had the immense pleasure of interviewing Littles, Jean's—

jean

[Chuckling] Mm-hm!

john

—Jean's and Quelle's cat. It was one of the funniest things that has ever happened in my life.

jean

Yeah.

john

I can't describe—I can't describe why I laughed so hard. You can't—it's like The Matrix. You gotta see it for yourself. [Jean laughs.] Unfortunately, that moment is lost to time, 'cause I do it Instagram Live and Stories, and it goes away after a while.

jean

Like a memory!

john

So when you see me announce on my Instagram, @johnhodgman, "Get Your Pets at four PM today," or "Get Your Pets at two PM today," or "Get Your Pets at five PM today," 'cause, you know, all days are different. Even though they don't seem that way right now. Please join us! It's a lot of fun, and it's—

jean

It's very pure.

john

It's very—yeah! It's just—

jean

It's a pure show.

john

It's a show of emotional support animal therapy. And, um—and we have a good time. So those are the things, aside from of course the Judge John Hodgman podcast, which is ongoing and wonderful, thanks to Jesse Thorn and Jennifer Marmor, and this week Jean Grae! So!

jean

[Whispers] Yeah!

john

Let's get back to the courtroom for my verdict!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

sound effect

[As Jean speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, footsteps.]

jean

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman re-enters the courtroom and presents his verdict.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

john

Thank you, Kelly, Andrew, you may be seated.

sound effect

[Chairs scrape.]

john

Andrew, I appreciate why you are... sensitive to the scold sesh. It's no fun. Scold seshes are no fun to receive. Or to give! But your argument that moving the trash bins silently is somehow not a scold? Mm-mm. No way. The story that you tell yourself, that you're being a nice guy? That's not what's going on. [Someone laughs quietly.] Once when I was in my 20s and I worked at a literary agency, I shared a floor with two other cubicles. And the other young assistants on the floor, they did not get along all the time. And one of the complaints was the woman, who was not me, felt that the man, who was not me, smelled bad. BO. Body odor. And one day—[stifles laughter] I hear her over the cubicle say to him "Hey. Um... something stinks around here! Uh, I happen to have this can of deodorant. Why don't we both put some on?" [John and someone else laugh.] And he got furious! 'Cause he knew what it was! It was a scold! She couldn't believe it, said "I was just trying to be nice to him!" Was not being nice! [Laughs.] You're correcting the universe the way you want it to be! And I understand! This argument that you give about moving the glass before Kelly's done with it 'cause you're being nice to save her a step, or you're moving the bins 'cause you're being neighborly. That's the story you're telling yourself! You're moving these things because you want the universe to be a certain way. You are correcting the world to fit what you want it to be.

john

Which I also get. A lot. I mean, I don't know if you guys saw the Kenneth Branagh Murder on the Orient Express. I never cared for Hercule Poirot. Me? I'm a Miss Marple guy! That's the way I've always been. To me, Hercule Poirot was just this... fatuous busybody show-off. Until I saw Kenneth Branagh step in a pile of manure. Some kind of feces. I don't know whether it was dog poop, or something, in the opening scenes. He steps in—he's walking through the city, and he steps in dog poop, let's say it was. And the look on his face—'cause Kenneth Branagh's a professional actor; he's good at it. [Someone laughs quietly.] Look on his face is so pained. And then he takes a step back, and then he puts his other foot in the dog poop. Because as he explains, "It's not the dirt that annoys me. It's the imbalance." And all of a sudden, Hercule Poirot became a real character for the first time in all of my experience of reading or watching these, uh, Hercule Poirot mysteries. Which goes back a long way, 'cause I'm a weird. [Someone laughs quietly.] And the problem is he is cursed with perception, and an intrinsic need for balance. And I'm not suggesting this is you, but once you understand that Poirot is working out of a compulsion to do what he has to do, it's not only merely a much more interesting character, but a much more human character. And he's channeling his compulsion for good. Your living room acting in this shot is incredible. You're the Kenneth Branagh of frustration in the living room. [Someone laughs quietly.] This is obviously staged. I mean, Kelly, you did not capture this in the moment.

kelly

I captured him with his arms down. They were—they—but then he lifted his arms, yes.

john

Yeah, but who told him to lift his arms?

jean

Mm.

john

You're a great director; he's a great actor. [Kelly laughs.] But I feel in you this feeling of like, "Come onnn! I don't wanna look at this can anymore!" And that's fine! I don't think you should have to look at it, either! The Flurbs are flurbing up! [Someone laughs quietly.] Doesn't matter why they're doing it. They're—they're—they're flurbing up! They're not following the rules. And it's causing you distraction, and you have a right to take care of that. And that's why, Kelly, I'm sorry to say, I cannot find in your favor. I can't compel Andrew to stop feeling the way he's feeling. 'Cause this is a deep thing! This is something he thinks about! And I don't think that it's necessarily bad that he's done this six times! [Someone laughs quietly.] Because the Flurbs don't seem to mind. The Flurbs don't give a flurb about anything! [Someone laughs.] Maybe. Which is all the more reason, Andrew, that it should not be a problem to just let them know that this is what you're doing. And get their permission. 'Cause you have to get their per—you can't. You can't! You can't be going on people's property with their property, touching their property! Without their permission. And it will be granted. I guarantee you. The Flurbs don't flurb it! They don't flurb. [Beat.]

john

I'm gonna rule—I can't rule in Kelly's favor. I'm gonna rule in your favor. I think you should do it! I think it's a neighborly thing to do. I think it's a nice thing to do. But the next time you do it, you have to say hi to them. Ding-dong, maybe. A little ding-dong. Or you can write a note. But just say "You may have noticed that I've moved your cans back from the curb a couple of times. I hope that that doesn't bother you. I'm glad to keep doing it, but if you would prefer me not to, I won't." And then see what they say. I'm sure they're gonna be like "Yeah, thanks for doing that work for me." [Someone laughs quietly.] But it's just a—this is a principle of law. Like, it's a minor thing. But the fact that you did it for Aunt Edie before does not set a legal precedent for you to do it whenever. If I were really not on your side here, Andrew, I would have ordered Kelly—[stifles laughter] I would have told you to take your headphones out. In fact, you know what? Take your headphones out, Andrew. There we go. Turnabout is fair play. [Quietly] Kelly. Sometime in the future... take your time. I want Andrew to forget all about this. I want him to forget that he ever—like, take years. By then, the Flurbs and you will be on great terms. It'll be great. And one day, without telling Andrew, I want you to take those bins in, and secretly put them by the side of the house before he can get to them. And document what he says about it. [Someone laughs quietly.] He's gonna be expecting it.

kelly

Right, right.

john

For weeks, months, maybe even a year. But when he's—when he doesn't notice, when he—this has receded into the back of his mind. Let me know what hap—do it. Let me know what happens. [Louder] Alright, Andrew! You're good. [Beat.] We were just talking about how much we like you. [Kelly or Jean laughs.]

andrew

Oh! [Kelly or Jean laughs.]

john

This is the sound of a gavel.

sound effect

[Trash cans clattering.]

john

Judge John Hodgman rules, that is all.

sound effect

[As Jean speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape, footsteps.]

jean

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom again!

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

jean

That's a lot of ins and outs. [Sighs.] Much like my feelings on this case. Kelly, how do you feel about this verdict?

kelly

I think it was fair. Um, and in good faith, and to meet Andrew where he's at, I'm willing to have the conversation with the—

jean

Mm-hm.

kelly

—with the Flurbs. So that he can do what he feels compelled to do.

jean

I'm excited. I think this went well. I—I—I would have ruled differently. But then again, I'm a real judge. [Someone laughs quietly.] Andrew, your feelings on this verdict?

andrew

I—I think the judge, uh, had great wisdom in the verdict. I think this is absolutely the correct thing to do. I think it leads with positivity. I think it, uh, allows everybody a graceful way to... not continue with this, if anybody's uncomfortable with it, but it also gives everybody a graceful way to continue with it if everybody's okay with it. I'm very pleased.

jean

Thank you, Kelly. Thank you, Andrew. I'm so happy.

crosstalk

Andrew: Thank you! Kelly: Thank you! Jean: I'm so happy we got to this place.

jean

Andrew, you can't touch others' stuff, fam. You can't. You can't. You can't. [Kelly laughs.] Get outta here.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Tense sci-fi music. [Speaker 1 narrates in voiceover intercut with dialogue from the show.] Speaker 1: Strange planets, curious technology, and a fantastic vision of the distant future. Featuring Martin Starr. Martin Starr: So we're going on day 14. Shuttle still hasn't come. Speaker 1: Aparna Nancherla. Aparna Nancherla: [Cheerful and electronic] The security system provides you with emotional security! You do the rest! Speaker 1: Echo Kellum. Echo Kellum: Can you disconnect me, or not? Speaker 1: Hari Kondabolu. Hari Kondabolu: I'm staying. Speaker 1: From Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Geoffrey McGivern. Geoffrey McGivern: Could you play Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"? Speaker 1: It's The Outer Reach: Stories from Beyond. Speaker 2: Now available for free at MaximumFun.org, or anywhere you listen. [Music fades out.]

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jean

[Enthusiastically distorted] Aaand that's another case in the booooks! In this voooice! [John laughs.] [Continuing the voice] Before we dispense some—

john

Jean!

jean

[Continuing the voice] What?

john

Jean, before— [She laughs.] Before we continue, let me just say what a delight it is to have you on again.

jean

[Regular voice] Oh, it's always fun!

john

Jean Grae, Church of Infinite You is every other Sunday afternoon?

jean

That's right, because every Sunday is too much! [Beat.] [Both laugh.]

john

Too much! And you can follow Jean Grae on Instagram at @jeanniegrigio, and on Twitter at @JeanGreasy. I've got those memorized.

jean

Thank you!

john

Type "Jean Grae" into your Google machine.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

JeanOfTheGraes on Twitch TV.

jean

That's right.

john

And that's Jean, J-E-A-N, of, T-H-E, G-R-A-E-S, 'cause you love the "A-E"s.

jean

Aee.

john

Just gotta get these plugs in before we get to Swift Justice so people know. Follow Jean. Find out when church is.

jean

Mm-hm.

john

Find out all the things that she's doing, 'cause everything she's doing is great.

jean

Thank you! There's a couple more shows coming up, so be sure to get ready for Sunday brunch, which is gonna be every Sunday that church is not. And, uh, I'll—[laughs] I'll be DJing and cooking a meal. Because I like to multitask. Also on Twitch.

john

Jean Grae! Making work for yourself.

jean

That's right.

john

Yeah. Making it hard. Alright. Before we dispense some Swift Justice, we wanna thank Logan Green for naming this week's episode "Trash Action Lawsuit." If you would like to name a future episode, just "like" Judge John Hodgman on Facebook. We regularly put out a call for submissions there. Follow us on social media! I am on Instagram at @johnhodgman. I'm on Twitter at @hodgman. And Jean, of course, @jeangreasy, and on Instagram @jeanniegrigio. We just talked about it. Hashtag your Judge John Hodgman Tweets #JJHo. Check out the Maximum Fun subreddit to discuss the episode. Jean, I've been—I've been popping into the subreddit. Lot of nice people over there!

jean

Mm-hm!

john

And of course check out the pictures of Penny and of frustrated Andrew. [Jean chuckles.] On Instagram at @judgejohnhodgman! Where we regularly post the evidence and other fun stuff from our listeners. And thank you to Jennifer Marmor. [Jean claps and cheers.] Now, Jean. Since you are the guest bailiff...

jean

Yeah.

john

But, as we know, a real life judge.

jean

Yes. Clearly.

john

I'm gonna let you take Swift Justice!

jean

Alright.

john

I'm gonna pitch it to you. Now... I'm taking a break, as we go to Swift Justice! Where we answer your small disputes with a quick judgment. Douglas says: "My wife Molly loses her keys constantly, and refuses to use the key hook I hung up inside the door, even though she admits that it helps her keep track of her keys. Judge—" in this case, Jean Grae—

jean

Mm!

john

"—would you please order Molly to use the key hook?"

jean

Molly! You gotta use that goddamn key hook! What are you doing?! You know what it's for? It's for hooking your keys on! So you don't lose 'em! All you gotta do is start a routine. Use that! Use the key hook, Molly! Judgment.

john

It's true that if you know that you're losing your keys all the time, and you know that the hook helps, you got to put the keys on the hook! And it's the same thing—you build new habits in life!

jean

You build new habits.

john

It's possible! It's possible.

jean

You—it only takes three times!

john

Right!

jean

After the third time that you put those keys on the hook, it's a thing!

john

That's about it for this week's episode! Submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho. Or email me, hodgman@maximumfun.org. That's hodgman@maximumfun.org. I get those emails. I read 'em. I sort 'em. I can't reply to all of them. I try. But—but my eyes will pass over them! And I know that this is true: there is no case too small. There is only cases too medium. We'll see you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast! That's Jean Grae, everybody! See ya next tiiime!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

music

A cheerful guitar chord.

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—audience supported.

About the show

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